Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Power Title Tags

Effective Title Tags

The title tag is located in the HEAD section of every web page. For example:

Title tag located between the opening and closing head tags

The title tag is the most important part of a web page. Search engines typically use the text from the title tag as the link text in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). So this is the text people will use to determine whether they will click on the link to your web site. However, search engines use this text in another way. It is one of the key indicators, for a search engine, of the content of the web page. This means you'll want to include your most significant key word(s) and/or phrase in the title of the page.

How much space do you have to work with? Somewhere in the range of 50 to 100 characters.

To give you an idea of how much space that is, the above two sentences have a total of 88 characters. So even 50-60 characters should be plenty of room.

Create the web page first, then add the title tag. This allows you to use the page content as a guide to what you say in the title tag. Each page should have a unique title that is directly associated with the content of that page. A major mistake new web designers make is to use the same title on all of pages in a web site, or they use generic titles that are not associated with the page content. This is an important part of each web page, so it is worth the time to write unique titles for each page.

When writing a title tag use the key phrase on the page, then write descriptive text around that phrase.

Is it alright if the page title duplicates the headline on the page? Yes, it is. Although the page title can be longer than a headline, so take advantage of the additional room in the title.

Is it alright to include my company name in the page title? Yes, it is. However, you would generally only do that for pages you've designed to be found when people search for your company name. For example, it might be appropriate to include your company name in the page title on your home page, contact information page, physical location/map page, your site map, and your about me page.

How many times should a keyword be repeated in a page title? A key word should not show up more than two or maybe three times in the title. And a word should not be placed next to itself, even if separated by dashes. The search engines see a dash as a blank space. For example, the following is a good page title that includes the word "DVD" twice:

Red Hot DVDs At Discount Prices! Huge DVD Inventory!

The title below also includes "DVD" twice, but the two occurances are separated by a dash. Some of the search engines might see this as spam and lower the rank of this page.

Red Hot DVDs -- DVDs Discounted to Low Low Prices!

The first title could even be expanded to include the word "discount" a second time and "DVD" a third time:

Red Hot DVDs At Discount Prices! Huge DVD Inventory! Fred's Discount DVDs.

When writing titles, use a variety of formats. Put long titles on some pages and shorter ones on other pages. That way, if a search engine's preference for the length of the title changes, you'll have a page already online that suits that preference.


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